Patrice Evra’s Manchester United career officially came to an end Monday after he finalized a transfer to Juventus. The Italian champions confirmed the 33-year-old had joined on a two-year deal for a fee of 1.2 million pounds, with a further 300,000 pounds due of they qualify for the Champions League next season.
The deal has been expected for some time, but was held up by Antonio Conte’s surprise departure as manager last week and subsequent appointment of Massimiliano Allegri. Despite the 30 million-pound signing of teenage left-back Luke Shaw earlier this summer, United was keen to retain the France international. Evra, however, decided it was time to move on.
“After a great deal of thought I have decided the time is right for me to leave Manchester United,” he said in a statement on Manchester United’s official website. “It is the biggest decision of my career as this club is, and will always remain, in my heart.”
Evra’s departure will be far from the end of the incomings and outgoings at Old Trafford in this summer’s transfer window. Despite having already spent nearly to 60 million pounds on Shaw and Ander Herrera, Manchester United Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward has said the club is looking to further bolster Van Gaal’s squad.
“We’ve been working with Louis over several weeks with regards to targets and we’re continuing to move forward on some of those targets,” he explained on the club’s official website.
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“We are willing to invest. There is no fixed budget. Financially we are extremely strong and funds are available. Louis is assessing what’s going on and there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes, so watch this space.”
There has already been much speculation as to a possible replacement for Evra to offer competition to Shaw. Wolfsburg said that man won’t be Ricardo Rodriguez. After an impressive World Cup with Switzerland, the 21-year-old was cited as a United target, with reports in Germany even claiming that contact had been made with his agent. Wolfsburg insists that would have been a waste of time.
“That will have been a brief conversation,” Wolfsburg Sporting Director Klaus Allofs told German publication Kicker, Sky Sports reported. “Ricardo is not going anywhere.”
Manchester United may instead take a different route. Following the departure of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, a center-back is also being sought, with Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen believed to feature high among new manager Louis van Gaal’s list of targets. The fact the Belgium international also has experience playing at left-back could solve two issues at once.
The latest reports have suggested United is on the verge of securing a 10 million-pound deal. While not confirming that claim, Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger did suggest his defender could be on the move.
“I cannot guarantee that [he will stay at the club] but should he go, I will bring another center back in for sure,” he said, to Arsenal’s official website says.
If it happens, a deal for Vermaelen may not be the end of Manchester United’s defensive reinforcement. A report in Barcelona-based publication Sport claimed the Premier League side is close to agreeing a 20 million (16 million pound) euro fee with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of World Cup-winning Germany center-back Mats Hummels.
Barcelona had also been strongly linked to the 25-year-old although neither Hummels nor Dortmund has given any indication his exit is on the cards. Certainly the fee quoted would be remarkably low for a player of his stature.
A much larger investment would certainly be required for United to re-sign a player it allowed to leave for free two years ago, Paul Pogba. United has been strongly linked to both Pogba and fellow Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal. While Vidal would seem the likelier of the two to arrive, French publication Le Figaro has reported United is now just one of two parties vying for Pogba’s signature now that Paris Saint-Germain is thought to have dropped out of the race.